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Painted Apple Moth

3 July 2002

Aerial spraying of a slightly expanded area of West Auckland will be continue while additional work is done on the future of the painted apple moth programme, Biosecurity Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said Cabinet had decided that the spray programme should continue in the meantime.

"However, Cabinet has asked for more detailed information on each of two longer-term options: an all-out effort to get rid of the painted apple moth, and a management plan that accepts that eradication is not possible."

Both options had potentially high costs, he said. Cabinet ministers needed to be sure that all options had been worked through thoroughly before making a decision that could have wide-ranging implications.

Mr Sutton said that vehement opposition to aerial spraying from a section of the West Auckland community despite the proven safety record of the Btk spray was unfortunate. Spraying was an important weapon against pest incursions, and it was vital that the Government could use it in the future.

"This has not been an easy project, and there have been many factors that had caused difficulties.

"The difficulty in determining exactly where the moth was, the logistics of mounting a large, complex aerial operation, the difficulty of synthesizing a pheromone attractant as well as manoeuvering through the legislative requirements of both local and central government, a complex and difficult liaison with the local community, and ensuring sufficient supply of the spray chemical, and many other factors have added up.

"Untill the outbreak in West Auckland, no-one in the world had done any real research on the painted apple moth. We have no way of knowing with any certainty whether it would be a serious pest in New Zealand. And we have no certainty of success in an eradication attempt.

"Cabinet is giving this programme close scrutiny. It is an important matter to get right."


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